By Andy Frisk
January 21, 2010 - 22:40
The political satire and irony are so thick and obvious in Captain America #602 “Two Americas Part 1” that you could cut it with a Bowie knife, and there are probably plenty of them around considering the amount of Tea Bagging Militia types appearing in this issue. Sometimes though, it’s necessary from an artistic standpoint to forego the subtlety and portray a wingnut as what it obviously is, a nut. The insane Captain America, birthed in the 1950’s to take Steve Rogers’ place while he was frozen in an Arctic block of ice waiting to be found, is truly insane, both violently and irreversibly. He has been portrayed as such for quite some time. When he joins up with The Watchdogs, a long term Captain America villain group of ultra-rightwing militants, it’s a match made in hell. Captain America/Bucky Barnes, who continues to wield the shield with the blessing of the returned Steve Rogers (at least for now), at the urging of and with the intelligence support of the still underground Nick Fury (you know he’s gotta be reclaiming his role as SHIELD officer supreme after Siege ends), heads out to infiltrate Captain (Wingnut) America’s Watchdog camp with the help of The Falcon in order to bring them down.
In his defense, William Burnside (the given name of “Bad Cap” as Bucky calls him) mourns the loss of the innocence of his childhood, and is angry over the plight of “honest hard-working Americans,” namely the toll economic bad times have taken on them, but his embracing of militant militia groups like The Watchdogs and their violent agenda is not the way to promote change. He’s horribly weighed down by nostalgia for “the good ole’ days” instead of enlightened by a desire to build a better tomorrow. The groups that Bad Cap embraces are racist and full of violent hate, and by extension so are the parodied anti-tax Tea Partiers (Tea Baggers) that series writer Ed Brubaker portrays.
Here’s where the humor comes in, and it’s needed considering the serious overall tone of “Two Americas Part 1”. The Tea Baggers are portrayed as holding aloft some hilarious, yet sadly representative, images of real life Tea Bagger marching signs, such as: “AMERICA NOT AMERICANT,” “NO NEW TAXES,” and most hilarious of all “TEA BAG THE LIBS BEFORE THEY TEA BAG YOU!” More telling and revealing though, the mixed messages of “AMERICA FOR SALE” and “STOP THE SOCIALISTS” reveals the confusion within the Marvel Universe’s Tea Bagger ranks. If America is “for sale” then who’s buying if the socialists must be stopped? Socialists don’t buy up things, they socialize them. There’s a fundamental difference between socializing something and buying it. Finally, the sign held aloft by one Tea Bagger stating “NO GOVT IN MY MEDICARE” says it all, and should need no exposition here. Sadly, this was an actual statement made by an anti-tax protester last year.
If anything, Brubaker is making interesting use of current political divisions in American politics and portraying the radical fringe elements of the conservative movement in American politics in a way that makes for great storytelling and satire. This is what Captain America should be about, and be like. Captain America Reborn was a lackluster and tedious retreading of the same old Cap storyline: Red Skull bad, Cap good, Cap bashes Red Skull, everything’s right with the world. Brubaker’s new storyline harkens back to some of the great Captain America storylines of the 70’s and 80’s such as “Secret Empire,” which actually serves as inspiration for the Second Feature starring the new Nomad, which begins in this issue.
Marvel Comics, taking its lead from DC Comics, is looking to try and keep some B list characters alive by regulating them to a backup story role in some of the major titles. The Second Features in DC Comics titles have been mildly interesting at best and annoying at worst. “Conjunction Part 1” demonstrates that, like in DC Comics, Second Features in Marvel Comics are just as ill advised. If the “new” Nomad can’t carry her own series, don’t take pages from (or give the impression of taking pages from) a story that, (like many at DC Comics) is worthy of standing alone or even being expanded. The only redeeming aspect of Nomad’s Second Feature is David Baldeon’s pencils and Chris Sotomayor’s colors. “Conjunction Part 1” is crisp and sharp and slightly cartoonish, which suits the tween super heroines being portrayed. It’s a nice contrast to Luke Ross’ great realistic and brooding pencils, which are complimented by White’s gloomy colors, and fit the theme of Captain America's story.
Overall, it’s great to have the Captain America series proper back on the publishing schedule and therefore on the racks. What’s even greater though, is to see the start of a new, interesting, and surely to be controversially engaging storyline. Finally, and greatest of all, Bucky is still Captain America for a little while longer, and we can start to put the boring Captain America Reborn behind us.
Rating: 9 /10